A new community-led mural shining a light on the history and heritage of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter has been unveiled at one of the city’s stations.
The 6m-wide artwork has been installed on platform 2 at Jewellery Quarter Station as part of the Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District’s (JQBID) ‘Adopt a Station’ project with West Midlands Railway.
Commissioned by the Jewellery Quarter Townscape Heritage project (JQTH), local artists Barbara Gibson and Marta Kochanek designed the artwork with contributions from eight students from Birmingham City University’s world-renowned School of Jewellery.
The mural illustrates the Jewellery Quarter’s industrial middle, highlighting many important buildings including the Argent Centre and Chamberlain Clock, both of which were recently restored. The artwork is interwoven with jewellery designs by the students, showcasing contemporary skills as well as the historical importance of the jewellery trade in this part of Birmingham.
Kate O’Connor, from the JQTH project, said: “It is great to see some of the fantastic buildings in the JQ Townscape Heritage area represented alongside contemporary work from the talented students at the School of Jewellery, greeting people as they arrive at the Jewellery Quarter Station. The overall design by local artists Barbara and Marta is so unique and we hope that it inspires people to go and explore the local area and to appreciate the historic architecture.”
Barbara and Marta, who both have a passion for the Jewellery Quarter having previously worked in the area, added: “Our passion for history, heritage and art has developed over the last few years through research and creative visions explored in both collage making and photography. We aimed for a joyful and colourful piece to allow the people of today to engage with the past. The opportunity to work on that piece allowed us to collaborate with students from the School of Jewellery, whose designs have been incorporated into our artwork.
“We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen to work on the collage and are incredibly excited to now share it with the Jewellery Quarter residents as well as all its visitors. We believe that the eye-catching piece will welcome all those curious viewers and help disclose the known and hidden gems of the area, helping to spread a positive impression of the natural beauty of the Jewellery Quarter.”
One of the students to contribute to the collage was Paul Bailey-Green, who recently graduated from the School of Jewellery with a HND in Jewellery and Silversmithing.
He said: “The final piece accurately reflects the Jewellery Quarter’s community and business heritage with its iconic 19th Century buildings interwoven with inspiring examples of jewellery from BCU School of Jewellery students. I feel proud and privileged that my work was chosen for inclusion.”
Since adopting Jewellery Quarter Station in 2019, the JQBID has delivered temporary art installations and community panels, including a map for the area designed by local artist Made on the Canal. The new mural becomes the first permanent art feature at the station and will soon be followed by further projects celebrating the area’s unique heritage and community.
JQBID is also working with local community groups and organisations to deliver an ambitious greening project as part of West Midlands Railway’s CCIF grant award which will see the installation of 12 large planters across both platforms inside the station.
Steve Lovell, marketing and communications manager and project lead at JQBID, said: “We’re so thrilled to see the mural inside the station. Since we adopted the station back in 2019, Covid-19 has sadly brought to a halt many of the plans we had during 2020, so we are extremely excited to finally install our first permanent fitting.”